Monday, December 8, 2008


When Papa Dog and I started the adoption process, our hearts were shrunken and small, or so we thought. Like idiots on autopilot, we bumbled forward. At an introductory meeting at the agency we would end up choosing, a very warm and kind woman opened her talk by warning that some couples must fully grieve any and all losses that might have brought some of them to this morning's orientation. She made good sense. And yet in some ways she was asking the impossible. Then she waved at her daughter in the back of the room, stretched over three chairs on her stomach doing her homework. Her daughter, a teenager who seemed dear and disinterested to the roomful of adults gaping back at her, waved distractedly at us and then rolled over onto her back, crossing one leg over her knee and returned to her book. The woman had adopted the girl when she was just a baby from Russia, and would return a few years later to adopt her son from the same orphanage. I wish I'd listened better to the woman's story of emotional and logistical process. Alas, couldn't. 

The image of that girl in the back of the room, who has probably heard the story of her adoption a thousand times and was probably promised a present of some kind for sacrificing another of her Saturdays to wait while her Mom yapped at another roomful of adults, was a saving grace for me. I don't know what it was that touched me so. Maybe it was their obvious and effortless and totally normal—both unremarkable AND extraordinary—connection. Maybe it was that the child half-listened to her adoption story with the same comfortable disinterest as any child would listen to her mother's thousandth retelling of her birth story. All I know for sure is that that young girl, and her exuberant and pillowy mother at the front of the room, would carry me through that first difficult round of paperwork. It was everything.

We're almost closing in on a year from when we first decided to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia. I'm taken aback by the heart's ability to patch itself back together after a time of crisis. Eleven months later and I feel like a braggart when I tell people I'm adopting. We're five months on the wait list now and some strange beast of calm has taken over me. I don't know when the referral is coming but I'm not counting down the weeks. Right now, I feel sure the child will get here in her due time. And then there her picture will be in front of us, and we will moon over the computer and snivel and weep and laugh and say 'Hold on, hold on, we're coming, we're coming!' 


Jebena said...

Welcome to the blogging will be added to my family's prayer journal and heart-thoughts!

Mama Dog said...

Hiya Love Notes! I'm so grateful for your good wishes. And I think I might have to add the phrase 'heart-thoughts' into my daily rotation.

I'm loving, loving, loving this online adoption community. What a relief not to have to explain, for the millionth time, that first comes the referral, then a hand-wringing wait for a court date, etc., etc. So nice to suddenly find myself part of a group that all speaks the same language!

Lori said...

I just now found your blog and could relate to this post. I had a similar sense of calm as we waited for Abe to come, right around this time last year. I had only a general idea of how many weeks were waiting at a time, using a friend in the same stage as us as the gauge when I felt like knowing (she was a counter!).
So. I think this is the healthiest way to go about the wait. Good for you.

Almost there said...

Hello Mama Dog,
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. Your writing is beautiful but more importantly the content touches my heart. Just as you mentioned in your blog, I too have spent countless hours reading blogs about Ethiopian adoption. I often refer to it as my therapy. My husband and I are just now starting the adoption process and we will be attending out first meeting next week. Hopefully it will be a positive experience like the one you mention in this entry. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for sharing your story. Without even knowing it, you have given me hope.
I thank you for that!